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tions. He sees the evil of sin, and sincerely hates it. He sees the beauty of holiness, and ardently desires it. He sees the excellency of the dear Redeemer, and cordially loves him. He delights in the law of the Lord after the inward man. He loves the truth, the day, the ordinances, the people of God. He sees the vanity of the world, and is in some degree weaned from it. He has a glimpse of the glory that shall be revealed, and longs to behold it; and in this experience he enjoys a foretaste of Heaven. He is not altogether a stranger to the joys of that celestial place. He who has wrought us for the self-same thing is God;" and this experience is a blessed earnest of the future possession. The believer's title to Heaven is in the righteousness of Christ alone; but his fitness for it is by these gracious operations of the Holy Spirit; and he who enjoys them in the greatest degree, is the person best prepared for the great change.
In these blessed dispositions consists the believer's habitual readiness for death; but it is usual also to speak of his actual readiness. Our Lord has illustrated the difference between habitual and actual preparation, by the similies employed in the context. "A housekeeper is habitually ready for the thief, when he has taken all proper measures to secure his habitation by doors, and bars, and bolts; but he is actually ready, when he stands armed to oppose his entrance. So the faithful servant is habitually ready to serve his master at any hour of the day, in any work to which he may be called; he is actually ready for his Lord's return, when he keeps waking with the light in his hand."
The believer is actually ready for death when the graces of the Spirit in his soul are in their lively exercise. When faith is strong, triumphing over doubt and uncertainty, when hope is firm, subduing painful fears, when love to God, and Christ, and heavenly things, is ardent, when he is actually employed in per forming the proper duties of his station, or when
calmly submitting to the afflicting hand of God-when he is guarding against excessive cares or undue indulgence of the flesh, and especially when the thoughts of death become familiar and pleasant, and the views of glory bright and enchanting :-then, with the world under his feet, Heaven in his eye, and Christ in his arms, he may say with pious Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
How important is readiness for death! Remember, death will come at its appointed time, whether you are ready or not: and O, how often at an unexpected hour! Not seldom, death comes suddenly. How often do we hear of sudden deaths! How many go to bed well, and neverrise more; or go out from home well, and never return! some are snatched away in the midst of their amusements, and others while engaged in their callings, How necessary then to be always ready, to be ready now! Delay in this is dangerous indeed. Almost all men talk of preparing at some future time; when sickness shakes them over the grave, or when the Lord removes a relation or neighbour, by some alarming stroke, they promise themselves they will repent and reform; but the impression soon dies away; the world, like the returning tide, fills their hearts with its cares and pleasures, and the writing on the sand is all erased." So dies in human hearts the thought of death."
But O, consider the unspeakably dreadful consequence of dying unprepared. We can die but once; and if we die in our sins we are lost, lost for ever! Once lost, lost for ever! There is no repentance in the grave, no pardon in the grave, no regeneration in the grave. Now then is the time; it may be the only time; certainly the best time. It may be Now or Never.
How happy is the life of that man who has "a
good hope through grace!"-the full assurance of hope; a solid, scriptural persuasion of his interest in Christ! He truly enjoys life; and he may smile at death. He may say with St. Paul, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."-While I live here, Christ is with me;-when I die, I shall be with Christ. How contented and cheerful may he be in the humblest lot, who knows that he is an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ! O happy, happy, happy man! Do not you wish to be like him?
But what is your present course? If you are living in sin, gratifying the lust of the flesh, and departing from the living God, you cannot have this assurance.
any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; and he walks not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. If you are living in sin, you cannot be happy; -you know you are not. You try to be happy by forgetting death; but you cannot forget it. The tolling of the bell, the sight of a funeral, or the news of another's decease, will force the recollection of it, and it makes you miserable. You are like the man at a banquet, with a drawn sword hung over his head by a hair:-you cannot enjoy life for fear of death. O that you were wise! for religion is true wisdom. Forsake the foolish and live. Let the wicked forsake his way, and turn unto the Lord: let him cry to God for the help of his Holy Spirit, without which no efforts of nature to get rid of sin will prove effectual; but with which the strongest corruptions may be subdued, and the sinner prepared for death and Heaven.
Let Christians remember their Lord's advice:ye also ready for ye know not the hour when your Lord cometh." Remember, even the "wise virgins slumbered and slept." Guard against this slothful temper. Cannot ye watch one hour? Be sober, be vigilant the Judge is at the door. Be diligent, believe in Jesus, and like your Master, "work while it is called to-day; the night cometh, in which no man can work."
Many have, on a dying bed, repented of their negligence,-none of their diligence. Now is the time for activity; there will be rest enough in the grave. And
O, daily guard against every obstruction to actual readiness. Conform not to the world in its levities and vanities. Be much alone-be much with God. Make conscience of redeeming precious time, and employing all your talents for the glory of God, the welfare of your family, the church, and the world. In a word, die daily.
When God removes any one that is dear to us, what cordial consolation does it afford, if we have reason to believe he was ready for death! We must not sorrow as men without hope. The change is his great advantage. It would be selfish to wish him out of Heaven, to reside again in this vale of tears. "We should scarcely dare to weep," said one, "if Christ had evidently taken away the body along with the soul of our friend to Heaven;" and why weep now? Absent from the body, he is present with the Lord; and though the body must see corruption, it shall not always be the prisoner of the grave. Jesus has engaged to raise it up at the last day, and to fashion it like his own glorious body. O let us prepare to follow our pious friends, favoured with an earlier call to glory; while we remain below, let us be active for God; and soon shall we join our kindred spirits before the throne, unite in the song of the redeemed, and "so be for ever with the Lord."